sight-reading-how good are you?

sight-reading - a figment of our imaginations?

  • depends whether my valves/slide/sticks is/are working-little beasties that they are!

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A J Foad said:
Very top professionals...? Any professional. Sight reading's what sorts the men out from the boys... :D

Sure, here I really meant any piece though which is why I expected only very top pros to deliver.
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
Sight reading's like anything else - it gets better with practice.

How do you practice?

  • Steal from the band library, anything, solo cornet parts, solo pieces for any instrument :shock:
    Play with as many types of ensemble as you can fit in
    Steal from their libraries as well :shock:
    Learn what different styles of music are about so that you can play something near the style of any piece, then at least if you can't play exactly what's written first time, you can fudge it :shock:

Same goes for transposition.

Do you want to be able to pinch that really good flugel solo and play it on horn? Learn to transpose!

BBb bass player missing? Learn to transpose. Your band will never sack you if you can do that - no matter how much music you steal from the library! :wink:
 

LeDragon

Active Member
I agree that your sight reading improves with the more sight reading that you do. Our conductor gets alot of stuff out of the library for sight reading in rehearsals - and he doesn't just get out modern pieces, he will just as often get out some 'yellow' music which I find can be just as big a test of sight reading, testing different aspects of your playing from some modern pieces.
 

TuTuKu

Active Member
i'm depping for a band at the weekend, who want me to play top man, so my sight reading had better be up to scratch!!

I tend to find that i play a piece more accurately the 1st time i go through it, as i'm generally concetrating harder. Once i've got it sorted i become a little more bla-say (sp?!) about things and the careless mistakes creep in, until i realise it's happening, then i turn the concentration back on!!
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
TuTuKu said:
I tend to find that i play a piece more accurately the 1st time i go through it, as i'm generally concetrating harder. Once i've got it sorted i become a little more blase about things and the careless mistakes creep in, until i realise it's happening, then i turn the concentration back on!!

I think this happens to everyone, especially if you are trying to make an impression! However, if you really want to make an impression, try playing the last note of a piece a semitone higher than written (i.e. sharpen it). :twisted: For some reason, it doesn't work as well if you flatten it :eek:
 

flugelgal

Active Member
TuTuKu said:
However, if you really want to make an impression, try playing the last note of a piece a semitone higher than written (i.e. sharpen it).
Possibly not the kind of impression that one would wish to make methinks :wink:
 
Depping is one good way of developing sight reading skills as you are exposing yourself to new music and being put on the spot having to sight read it on stage etc.
 

TuTuKu

Active Member
Ha, my brother always does this when tuning up.... the lad that sits next to him plays a C, and he comes in with a B nat, he does it everytime but it's rather funny!
 

TuTuKu

Active Member
hellraiser said:
Depping is one good way of developing sight reading skills as you are exposing yourself to new music and being put on the spot having to sight read it on stage etc.

A rather cruel way though!
 

amgray

Member
The reason that the top bands sight read well is that they spend less time rehearsing a piece than a lower section band would. In my experience it is not at all unusual to do a minimal "top and tail" of a concert piece and perform it on a gig a few days later - and for pieces that have been played in the last 18 months not even bother looking at them at all.

As for how you do it......when sight reading I seem to 'read ahead' more than normal (anything up to 4 or 5 bars ahead), the brain seems to cope with processing all the information and (hopefully) play the right notes at the right time.

It is an adrenalin fuelled sport though, and works best when on stage with a live audience :shock:
 

WoodenFlugel

Moderator
Staff member
I have to admit that my sight reading is pants and always has been. I think I'm very much a "confidence" player and not knowing what comes next takes that away so I'm always sort of second guessing myself :?

Plus if you're depping on a part like flugel you never know whats coming, and have no hiding place if things catch you out. Whereas with solo cornet or sumsuch there are at least other players you can hide behind :wink: So I guess that might compound my lack of confidence on sight-reading flugel parts.

I guess I'm not doing my chances of depping for anyone much good here am I? :?
 

Dave Euph

Member
My sight-reading in my first few years of playing was supposedly very good ... but in recent times I've been criticised for my lack of style in the task. My argument of course is that you take it one step at a time, dynamics and articulation taking a 'minor' back seat for the first run through while I make sure of the notes (unless it's a slow melody).

Of course, with practise this can improve ... I certainly agree with the reading ahead strategy.
 
In my grade 8 I only dropped one mark on sight-reading... and it was in 3/4, allegro and changed to 6 sharps in the middle :shock: :shock: :shock: That examiner was a right *beep*... but I did it... somehow!! An I was always dead confident after that with sight-reading.

For some reason though, when I came to uni I felt dead threatened by everyone and mainly played aload of tosh all the way through first year and thought I was always wrong and everyone else was right... lost a lot of my confidence with sight-reading after that :?

Nay mind!! :D
 

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
I always thought I was a cruddy sightreader until my teacher called me a bastard. He was always impressed with the way I sightread....but it was a skill I needed.....I didn't exactly practise!!
 
Maybe some of the top level banders on here would care to let us in on exactly how they go about sight reading.

I thought it was a pretty straight-forward concept, that I could do reasonably well, until I got the chance to play with an ex-pat London concert pianist who showed me that her definition of sight-reading included constantly flicking pages ahead, practicing bars ahead in her mind while still remaining focussed on the current music etc. - she had a very very very detailed understanding of the proccess. Quite amazing to watch.

I would certainly believe that the best bands could get a test near-perfect on first run, if it's true that even though amateurs largely, they can match the musicianship of proffesionals.
 

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Back when I was with Cap silver we sightread through the Saint-Saens symphony (the onefrom Babe). The best sample of sight reading ability came from those gods themselves, the euphos, who took the finale to the piece at exactly double speed and wondered why they finished so early.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Dave Euph said:
My argument of course is that you take it one step at a time, dynamics and articulation taking a 'minor' back seat for the first run through while I make sure of the notes.

I've heard this argument before, when I criticise my own band for sightreading faults, something along the lines of "Give us a chance, we're still trying to read the notes!"

I have to say I don't really understand the logic; it may not be so important in rehearsal, but if you're forced into sightreading on a performance, (something I seem to find myself doing a lot of these days!) then in my experience the actual pitches are almost the least important element.

An incorrect note, played in the right place, at the right dynamic, with the right articulation, will usually pass un-noticed by most people (esp. the average audience) unless it's a) very exposed, b) very slow, or c) obstinately sustained against every instinct of basic musicianship!

On the other hand, a correct note, played in the wrong place because you mis-read the rhythm, or played too loud, or held too long because you didn't see the staccato, will almost always stick out like a sore thumb!

I guess what I'm saying is that it depends on the context, but certainly if one is sightreading on the gig, then my own approach is, after having taken initial note of such basics as, the clef/key sig./time sig., to concentrate, in descending order of priority, on rhythms, dynamics, articulations, then the actual notes. (I suppose phrasing ought to be in there somewhere as well, but I'm not really sure where - depends on the context again)

Works for me, anyway (most of the time!)

G.
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Another aspect of sight-reading in a band situation is being able to focus on what matters, so that things keep going. Better to miss a few notes out if you can make sure the pulse remains steady and the key parts are played.
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
PeterBale said:
Another aspect of sight-reading in a band situation is being able to focus on what matters, so that things keep going. Better to miss a few notes out if you can make sure the pulse remains steady and the key parts are played.

And key signatures.... ;-)
 

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